Sunday, September 19, 2010

To err is human; to Fredo is to forgive

At this, the end of the days of awe for Jews worldwide, the two words of the ten days are "forgive" and "inscribe". Inscribe will be dealt with in another post, but for today, let's examine forgive.

To be forgiven is supposed to clear everything up, right? I forgive someone and all those feelings of anger, irritation and shock of what's happened (in the case of Michael and Fredo, Fredo having set up Michael to be whacked!) are supposed to just fly the coop?

That's a lot to ask of the angry person. Think about it, you're pissed off at someone and they say, "please forgive me for forgetting your birthday", it's up to you to get rid of that anger and say, "o.k." and then move on with your life.

I don't think so.

But when it's even worser? Yes, I said worser.

When someone says, as in the case of Fredo, "Please forgive me for putting a hit out on you". I don't think that Michael is thinking that a simple forgiveness request is going to do it.

Seriously, think about it. There's no easy way to rectify these things. Saying, "I'm sorry" is about as effective as saying, "oops". Ergo, not so much.

But, asking for forgiveness puts all the responsibility on the person being asked. If you say, "please forgive me" it's my job now to make the decision to forgive you or not. If I do, then I have to let go of my anger and if I say no, I sound like a tool.

So what's the solution?

Are there events that are unforgivable?

I guess that depends.

Was shooting Sonny on the causeway forgivable? The Don went to the five families and cleared the air. Pretty amazing. I'm not sure I could let the air be cleared if it was my kid.

What about the kids who bullied that little girl on the bus day in and day out. Her Dad came on the bus and laid down the law that he'd permanently mess them all up (including the driver) if they continued to bully his daughter. Should the girl forgive those kids? Should the parents forgive the father?

And something else...are we forgiving actions or behavior? Think about that. Think seriously about that.

Are you forgiving the hit that Fredo put out on you or are you forgiving the behavior, the fact that Fredo CHOSE to behave that way.

Forgiveness is a rough deal. I'm not sure I get it either.

But here's the rub. It's the waiting until Yom Kippur (YK) to ask for forgiveness part that seems pretty insincere to me. The readings say that you should ask for forgiveness immediately when you "transgress" against one another and that YK is simply a 'catch all' for the transgressions you may have missed.

If you missed it and someone is walking around being irritated with you and doesn't mention it, how will you know if you need to ask for forgiveness. And more importantly, why would they wait until the days of awe to let you know, "say, by the way, last October you really pissed me off when you....".

I'm sorry - I must call an audible for that one. The statute of limitations has WAY expired if it was 11 months ago. Communication and forgiveness are a two-way gig. It's just as important to let someone know that they pissed you off as it is for you to let them know that they did if it appears that they don't realize it (as dense as that makes them look to you).

So, poor Fredo. Here he is, stuck in this family, thought to be the stupid one ("I'm smart! I'm smart!") and he gets in Dutch with Hyman Roth's peeps - Johnny Ola was the middle man - and the hit on Michael doesn't work.

NOW, they're at a new years party and his brother Michael plants a very humongous kiss on his lips and utters the now very famous lines, "I knew it was you Fredo. I knew it was you. You broke my heart Fredo! You broke my heart!" and then commands Fredo to get on a plane with him to flee to safety from Cuba.

Fredo comes slinking back to Michael asking for forgiveness, using their sister (Tahlia Shire in a most fabulous role, prior to her almost mute role in Rocky) as his go-between. Michael basically says "Paphooy" to Fredo until their Mom dies and then, as it turns out, Fredo's days are numbered.

All I have to say is never go fishing with someone named Fredo.

So what would you do? What do you do about forgiveness? What do you do about giant transgressions against you or ones you've done to others? The only one who has to reckon it at the end is you, but how do you deal with the issue of forgiveness?

I'm not sure either.

But I do know this, karma is a brutal thing. I know is that I have to be a good person, not hold grudges (it's in my DNA, so that's a constant battle), and live and let live. I'm fortunate that I haven't had to deal with a forgiveness request for what I would consider a large transgression and frankly, I'm not sure what I'd do if I were Michael. But my siblings should rest assured that I will never have them killed. Never, ever, never, ever. I think that might fall into the unforgivable column.

I guess this one will be decided on a case by case basis.

May all of you be inscribed in whatever book you hope to be inscribed in for a healthy and happy year,

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